OWC Gear – Too Cool for Words!

I just received the OWC mugs I ordered last week, and they are pretty righteous:



Be the first in your office/household/classroom/gym/cell block to own one of these collectors’ items. Click here to order yours today!

Xterra Vendetta Wetsuit – OWC Discount Ends June 30

Just a quick FYI. Xterra Wetsuits, our sponsor, has given us special discounts on their various products. Most of these discounts are ongoing, but they have placed a time limit on the discount for their high end wetsuit, the Vendetta.

So if you are interested in getting one of these “elite” wetsuits at a special discount, send me a quick note at srhernan@gmail.com as this offer expires JUNE 30, 2009.

Sponsorship Opportunity: Attention Wetsuit Makers

My 2004 Ironman Instinct has developed several major rents in one of the legs that makes it essentially beyond repair at this point. While I will be able to continue swimming with the help of some strategically placed duct tape, I am currently seeking a replacement wetsuit. So in the spirit of directness:

I am looking for a triathlon wetsuit manufacturer who is willing to sponsor Open Water Chicago by providing me with a new one.

So what’s in it for you, you might ask? Well, to begin with, we get a decent amount of exposure in the local endurance and recreational sports communities. We conduct our events in a highly visible area where we come into direct contact with large numbers of individuals training for triathlons and marathons. In fact, many Lake Monsters are active in and well connected with various triathlon and marathon training groups in the Chicago area.

Second, we’ve been getting more and more media inquiries with regards to our swim group and the issues surrounding lake access and open water swimming in Chicago. I have no doubt that this will continue in frequency and intensity, so any sponsoring entity is sure to receive high levels of positive exposure going forward.

So here’s the deal…you provide me with one of your high quality products and I’ll make sure you get massive exposure both on this site as well as externally out at any of our swim venues. This means links to your site, logos featured prominently here as well as out at our meetups, and anything else we can negotiate to our mutual satisfaction.

Any interested party can contact me directly at srhernan(at)gmail(dot)com.

Remember, this is a one-shot deal. Whoever jumps on this first is going to get several years of marketing exposure in a major U.S. market.

Cold Water Swim Gear – 50F and Below

Here’s the set-up I use this time of year when the lake temperatures start to dip below 50F:

First layer

  • Tyr swim jammers with dri-fit underwear
  • ONeill 13 Ounce Thermo-X Short Sleeve Crew

I can’t say enough about the ONeill Thermo-X. Candidly, I think this is the most critical piece of equipment in this set-up. This “rash guard” is built for surfers who are out cavorting in 50F water, but it works great for swimming. Not only does it allow for a full range of swim motion, but it also keeps heat in my core and wicks water away from the surface of my skin. This is especially important for me since I have very little body fat. Consequently, the Thermo-X shirt gives me that extra layer of “seal blubber” that I need!

Second layer

  • Full body triathlon wetsuit
  • Deep See neoprene diver gloves
  • Deep See neoprene diver booties (7mm)
  • Deep See neoprene diver hood (3mm/7mm)
  • Aqua Sphere swim goggles or a Cressi Minima freediver mask
  • Petroleum jelly

Ideally, the only exposed areas of your skin should be your forehead, your mouth, and the lower part of your face. This is where you will want to apply the petroleum jelly to protect yourself from the cold water.

The diver hood covers your head and neck, and I usually tuck it into my wetsuit to add an additional layer on top of my upper torso. Some of the other swimmers prefer to swim with it outside. Regardless, it makes a HUGE difference in preserving the heat in your core.

So far this set-up is working great for me. I prefer to use the goggles over the freediver mask since the goggles are much less cumbersome – and I still do a fair amount of breathing through my nose. However, I may switch to the mask in the lower temperatures.

That’s it! Now you have no excuses for missing any of our meetups…

Cold Water Swim Gear – Your “Outer Game”

In order to swim comfortably in the bracing waters of Lake Michigan, I gear up in layers.

1) Tyr jammer swimsuit

2) ONeill 13 Ounce Thermo-X Short Sleeve Crew designed to keep my “core” warm

3) A full body wetsuit

The final cold water accessories are a neoprene swim cap, neoprene booties, and neoprene diving gloves.

This is the gear set up I use for swimming in 50F – 56F (10C – 13.3C) water. The only other items I add to this are my swim goggles as well as petroleum jelly to use on the exposed areas of my neck and face.

Once the water temperature exceeds 56F (13.3C), I “pare down” my equipment accordingly:

57F – 62F (13.9C – 16.6C) – Eliminate the gloves, booties, and neoprene cap (use latex swim cap)
63F – 68F (17.2C – 20.0C) – Eliminate the thermo shirt and consider switching to a “farmer john” or “shortie” wetsuit
69F+ (20.5C+) – Eliminate the wetsuit

Let me emphasize that these are guidelines that I formulated based upon my personal experience with cold water swimming. Other people might have different temperature thresholds, and they might very well be comfortable swimming without a wetsuit at much lower temperatures. Indeed, there are multiple factors that influence one’s cold water tolerance such as age, gender, body fat%, and overall physical conditioning. However, this is a good benchmark if you’re just starting out. You can always adjust upwards or downwards once you get more exposure to varying water situations.

How to Repair a Wetsuit

Around July of 2007, I noticed that my 3-year-old wetsuit had developed a small tear at the bottom edge of one of the legs. Over the next few months this tear expanded until I had a sizable rent in the suit of about 3 inches. Since there was nothing wrong with the rest of the suit, I opted to try to repair it myself. I found and followed these instructions from the eHow website on this topic:

Things You’ll Need:

* Neoprene Cement (I used Aquaseal)
* Heavy Sewing Needle
* Strong Thread Or Dental Floss

Step 1:
Large rips, or rips along seams, need to be sewn closed. Use strong thread or dental floss and a heavy sewing needle. Hold the two sides of the rip together and use a spiraling stitch to sew them together.

Step 2:
Coat both sides of the newly sewn rip with neoprene cement to make it watertight. Neoprene cement can be purchased at surf and dive shops.

Step 3:
Small cuts and rips can be sealed using only neoprene cement. Hold the rip together and coat with cement. Apply to both sides. Let dry for 10 minutes and apply a second coat.